Intellectual Relations and the Renewal of Religious Thought in Iran and Muslim India During the Modern Period
Conference - Introduction
30 June - 2 July 2007
Conference hall of the Iranian Institute of Philosophy, 6 Arakliyan Alley, Neufl-le-Chateau St., Tehran, Iran
This conference aims to explore the intellectual relations existing between Iran and India during the Modern Period.
French Institute for Research in Iran (IFRI), Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF), Iranian Institute of Philosophy (IRIP).
Denis Hermann, IFRI & Fabrizio Speziale, IFRI.
During the Modern Period, the use of Persian by Muslim elites in a region that extended from Transoxania to the Deccan encouraged the formation of a relatively unified Islamic culture in spite of great geographical and political diversity. The circulation of scholars between Iran, Central Asia and India was a movement that had begun in the Medieval Period, and, reinforced by various factors, remained very important during the Modern Age, when the main ports of arrival for these scholars became the courts and the main cities of the Mughal Empire (1526-1858) and those of the Sultanates of the Deccan. The most important of the Muslim states of the Deccan were ruled for a period by Shiite dynasties and developed close relations with the intellectual milieu of Iran under the Shiites Safavids (1501-1732). The Iranian and the Central Asian immigrants, as well as their descendants, constituted for several centuries a fundamental portion of the Indian scholarly elites. The birth of nation-states and nationalism during the twentieth century ended up by radically separating cultural and geographical zones that had been bound together in the Mediaeval and Modern Periods. In the academic milieu, this helped separate Iranian and Indian studies into two divided fields.
Iran and India have often been perceived as geographical zones on the periphery of the Muslim world. On the contrary, during the Modern Period the Indo-Iranian world became one of its centres, notably in the intellectual, doctrinal and literary spheres. This epoch generated numerous studies and works on philosophy, mysticism, religious sciences, rational and natural disciplines, and the heritage of the main authors of the Safavid-Mughal's age exerted a lasting influence on later authors and the curriculum of studies. Scientific, religious and artistic fields and studies were marked by the interest for Indian knowledge and its sources. The process of adaptation of Indian sources in Persian is one of the important processes of translation realised in the Muslim world during the Modern Epoch, and produced notable works until the Colonial Age. Important figures and movements of doctrinal renewal appeared in the Indo-Iranian world, especially with the beginning of the phase of colonialism's growing political and cultural pressure.
The period dealt with by the Conference is a controversial one. Islam and the Muslim world during the Modern Period are often thought of negatively as a phase of substantial decline in intellectual production compared to the so-called 'Classical' Period. This prejudice was alimented by the Orientalists and one of its basic corollaries is that during this period Muslim scholars were considered to have merely commented on texts and ideas from the so-called 'Classical' Period. The idea of the decline of the Muslim world and thought in the Modern Period also played a relevant role in shaping the strategies of reform and modernisation of Islam by the reformist movements and forces that became active in India and Iran during the Colonial and Qajar epoch.
Publication of Proceedings
The proceedings of the Conference will be published in a volume edited by the convenors. The volume will also include a few additional contributions by invited scholars who cannot be present at the Conference.
Languages of the Conference
English, French and Persian.